Friday, August 23, 2013

IN A WORLD... Review- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Lake Bell
Written by Lake Bell
Starring: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Rob Cordrry, Michaela Watkins, and Ken Marino.
Synopsis: A young woman tries to make it in the world of voice-overs. 

The infamous trailer line, "In a world.." was the trademark of the one and only Don LaFontaine. If that name doesn't ring a bell, not to worry. If you heard his voice, it would click. In the world of voice-over artists, there is plenty of work (movie trailers, commercials), but it's one of the most difficult parts of the entertainment industry to break into. Most work is given to a small percentage of artists. In her directorial debut, Lake Bell, who also wrote and stars, tries to show insight to making it as a voice-over actress in the aptly named film, IN A WORLD...

Lake Bell stars as Carol Solomon, daughter of famed voice-over artist, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed). Sam is slowly on his way out of the business, while Carol is trying to break in. Her father kicks her out of the house because his girlfriend, who's as old as Carol, is moving in. She's trying to make a living out of performing voice-overs and tries to hone her craft. When she's not a voice coach, she's following people around with her voice recorder hoping to hear a unique accent or dialect she can add to her repertoire. She could get her big break soon. A new "quadrilogy" of films has been put into production, and the studio wants to bring back LaFontaine's famous line, "In a world," for the first trailer. One kink in her plan of landing the gig is the well-established but uber slimy Gustav, played by Ken Marino, who is already assumed would land the job before Carol shows up.

The film is strongest when it focuses on the voice-over world. Not only is most of the work given to a small percentage of artists, but it's clearly a man's world. In showing Carol's struggle to make it, Bell has created a subtle female-empowerment film without beating the audience over the head with its message. She has a knack for writing realistic, charming, and flawed characters. When the story waivers to sub-plots, like the marriage trouble between her sister and husband (Michaela Watkins and  the always amazing Rob Corddry) or the babbling audio engineer (Demetri Martin) who has a crush on Carol, the film doesn't feel as strong or grounded. Those sub-plots end up being the more standard arcs seen in all movies, and it's easy to guess how they will play out. It feels Bell felt like she had to put those plot points in there because that's what all romantic comedy movies require.

One aspect that is quite refreshing is Bell is not the typical romantic lead. Even with her constant stream of wearing overalls as her staple clothing (which is a strange style I don't fully understand), Carol never feels overly annoying or too hipster, which could have been an easy go-to quality for the character. She's not the brightest and a little bit too awkward, which can be frustrating, but it's easily to buy into her energy. Thankfully the script focuses less on her looks (because who cares what you look like when you do voice-overs), and more on her drive and natural quirkiness, which makes us want her to succeed.

There are parts of the film which absolutely soar and make it feel like fresh, new twist on the rom-com genre. Even with the obvious plot points, such as the romance between Bell and Martin, Bell has created a very likable and endearing film. She has an eye for building relationships between her characters. No matter how small their part, the entire ensemble of characters feel completely at ease with each other on screen. On a side note, keep a look out for Tig Nataro, who has the absolute best line in the film.

For a feature debut, Bell should be proud of the film she has created. Though there are some script issues, she has made her stamp on the rom-com world. It's fun, charming, and a thoroughly enjoyable little movie.

After the screening of this film, Lake Bell was present for a Q&A session. She explained how she has always wanted to do voice-over work, but how difficult it was to not only break into the business but make a living. This film was a sort of tribute to that art form and for those struggling artists, especially women. She also seemed every bit as charming as her character on screen, even without wearing overalls.

No comments:

Post a Comment